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Thu, Jan 15, 2009

Aero-News Alert: US Airways A320 Down In Hudson River

Parker: "Preliminary Report... Everyone Off The Plane And Accounted For"

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 01.15.09 1807 EST: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tells reporters he has spoken with the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549, who assured the mayor he walked through the cabin of the ditched airliner to verify everyone was off the aircraft before he, too, abandoned the plane.

Officials remain cautious in stating there were no fatalities in the Thursday afternoon accident, though at this time it does appear everyone was able to exit the plane. Firm confirmation remains difficult to come by, as passengers in need of medical care were transported to hospitals in both New York and New Jersey.

Meanwhile, a makeshift aircraft salvage operation is underway near Battery Park, as tugboat crews work with Coast Guard officials to move the listing A320 away from the main Hudson River shipping channels.

1715 EST: While official confirmation has not been made, there are more indications everyone onboard US Airways Flight 1549 survived the ditching of the airliner in the Hudson River two hours ago.

 

"Our preliminary report [indicates] everyone is off the plane and accounted for," said Doug Parker, US Airways CEO in a press conference in Tempe.

Parker stated there were 150 passengers and five crewmembers onboard the A320, which was bound for Charlotte, NC.

Reports indicate the airliner encountered a large flock of geese on climbout from LaGuardia, which shut down both of the plane's engines. CNN reports the plane's pilot reported a double engine flameout as the result of bird strikes shortly before the aircraft hit the water.

Area hospitals report several passengers are being treated for comparatively minor injuries, ranging from hypothermia to broken limbs.

The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a Go Team to investigate the accident. The NTSB identified the accident airframe as N106US, which entered service with US Air in 1999.

(The spectacular photos above were taken by Gregory Lam, a photographer close to the scene who captured these amazing pix. Used by ANN under guidelines of Creative Commons Attribution protocols.)

1640 EST: We are hesitant to report this, for fear of being wrong... but CNN and MSNBC, citing FAA officials, state all passengers onboard a US Airways A320 that ditched in the Hudson River in New York City are accounted for, and alive.

Video from the scene (shown above) shows most of the airliner now underwater, with only the upper 2/3 of the tail still visible. Amazingly, the aircraft survived the water landing intact, greatly increasing the chances of survival for those onboard.

Officials have cheered the skill of the plane's flight crew, who guided the narrowbody airliner to the very textbook definition of a water landing.

The Airbus A320 may carry as many as 175 passengers. At least 135 passengers and crew were onboard the plane; CNN reports 148 passengers and six crewmembers, though those numbers have not been verified by US Airways.

The airliner came down near a number of ferries traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey, and within sight of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space-Museum. In the moments after the crash, passengers initially stood on the plane's wings and horizontal stabilizer, awaiting rescue in the sub-40-degree (F) water.

Original Report

1540 EST (Updated 1620 EST): New York City firefighters are on the scene of a plane crash in the Hudson River. At least three ferry boats and firefighters in rubber rafts are converging on a US Airways airliner.

CNN reports Flight 1549, an Airbus A320, was attempting to return to New York LaGuardia when the aircraft impacted the water at approximately 1525 EST. Witnesses said the plane came in at a shallow approach angle, at a low speed.

The plane had departed Runway 4 at LGA five minutes earlier, bound for Charlotte, NC. The plane climbed to approximately 3,200 feet MSL before it descended quickly. There are reports the pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing atTeterboro Airport in New Jersey.

Online tracking data showed the plane at 300 feet MSL over the river, at 153 knots, before radar contact was lost

The FAA has tentatively stated multiple bird strikes may have felled the airliner.

There are no immediate reports of casualties. At this time, most of the fuselage has sank below the water level, with only the upper portion of the rear fuselage and the plane's tail still above the surface. Most if not all emergency exits appear to be underwater.

Alberto Panero, a passenger onboard the airliner, told CNN via cellphone the plane "shuddered" shortly after takeoff, with the smell of smoke in the cabin. The pilot told passengers to "prepare for impact" immediately before the plane ditched.

Panero added he believes most if not all the 135 passengers onboard were able to evacuate the plane through the forward exit doors. Video from the scene shows both forward exit doors, and the port side over-wing exits, open and still above the waterline, nearly an hour after the accident. The aircraft is reportedly drifting slowly in water.

Another passenger tells CNN the aircraft was climbing out of LGA when the plane shuddered, and the port engine caught fire.

US Coast Guard first responder boats have dropped life jackets in the water to assist survivors.

FMI: www.usairways.com

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